The warmer weather and thoughts of summer here in the northeast have got me craving my former go-to beverages. Though I was fiercely loyal and dedicated to my red wine in the evenings and when we’d go out to eat, ice cold beer was always my summer fling, a new flavor every week right out of the bottle. No cheap beer. And no cans. Never cans.
So, I headed to my kitchen and did what any good girl committed to her sobriety would do. I made my favorite iced tea to have as a reward at the end of the day. I drink it from my wine glass.
Yes, I have a theme song for my sobriety. Or, at least for my favorite sobriety tool. After all, I was a huge Ally McBeal fan back in the day and everyone’s got to have a theme song. Because I’m all about that glass, ‘bout that glass, no … you fill in the blank. Boozing. Wining. Beering. Whatever fits.
I know, I know. It’s corny, but I sing it all the time. Because for me it IS all about the glass. Because I’m filling my glass with something stronger. And the glass itself is as much a physical tool as it is a metaphor.
Is the iced tea stronger than the wine? Of course not, if all you’re thinking about is alcohol content. But it’s not just about what I’m drinking. Think about the whole glass half full or half empty thing. THAT’s the glass I’m talking about. And, no matter how full it is, the beauty is that we can pour a little out, drink some, and add more of something different or stronger any time we want. It’s fluid, literally and figuratively. Because sobriety is a journey – sometimes we feel drained, sometimes we feel like we’re drowning in a flood, sometimes we feel filled to the brim with exactly everything we need and want.
When I first got sober, the iced tea in the wine glass was my best friend. With me as I wound down each evening, by my side as I soaked away the day in a hot bubble bath, sometimes I even held onto it in the home office and pretended it was the liquid courage I was convinced I needed.
I’m the kind of person who thinks she doesn’t need help. From anyone. For anything. Ever. A little over a year ago, it took every ounce of sober resolve I could muster (I may have even been driving to the store for a six pack of beer) to call my wellness coach and ask for her help. But if I hadn’t made that phone call, I don’t want to imagine where I’d be today.
Not only do I need help from people, but I also need help from a special set of tools I can reach for at any given moment. Even now there are some days I need to make sure I don’t schedule any errands. There are still times (though very few and far between) I know that the moment I leave the house, I might drive to a bar or a liquor store.
I used to make sure there were errands for every afternoon, so I could purchase my late afternoon/evening rations. Then the errands began earlier and earlier. Ultimately, I gave up trying to get the kids onto the bus in the morning because if I drove them to school I could run all the errands first thing and then have all the booze to tap into as soon as I wanted. At the end, I didn’t make it past 10 a.m. On a good day.
Every alcoholic is going to find the right set of tools for recovery. We all have certain triggers and the only way to do this is to get to the heart of who we are (peel away the layers of our own onion) and figure out what does and doesn’t work. There’s no set recipe – we choose the ingredients and, over time, change quantities and make substitutions.
Before things spiraled out of control for me, drinking wine (or beer, or anything else) was very much about the glass in my hand at the end of the day as a reward for making it through, winning battles with the kids, triumphing (or maybe not) in my quest to win the adoration and respect of the kids’ friends’ mothers, landing a new client, scoring a big media opportunity for an existing client, you name it. Everything had to either be celebrated or mourned. And the tool of choice was always a glass of wine.
For me, the wine was courage, a pain reliever for my back, something to numb my brain so my heart wouldn’t feel the things my heart needed feel. And it was never strong enough. No matter how much I drank, the booze was never strong enough to deliver what I wanted.
What I have learned is that it wasn’t the wine I needed. It was the breath of air I took when I lifted the glass to my lips, the feeling of the ritual as much as the ritual itself. And, if I had truly let that breath refresh me and allow me to reflect consciously on the events of the day with a clear and logical head, I wouldn’t have needed the numbing effects of the alcohol.
There’s something about how the wine glass feels in my hand. Even filled with iced tea. Something about the therapy of sipping from it, savoring it and not guzzling. And, I drink water all day long from a glass beer mug. I feel brilliant. Go ahead and judge. You won’t offend me. This works.
It doesn’t matter if the glass is half full or half empty.
Just be grateful you have a glass and the power to choose what fills it.